Vincent van Gogh was not only drawn to Hiroshige’s tranquil landscapes and Kunisada’s beautiful women, he also fell for the more explosive prints by Kuniyoshi. This printmaker almost singlehandedly created the genre of portraits of warriors (musha-e).
In the heroic stories depicted in these prints, he could give free rein to his unbridled imagination and creativity.
Everything undulates and swirls in this spectacular triptych The Sacrifice of Yojibei. In his triptychs, we see Kuniyoshi at his finest. He made the best possible use of the three sheets to depict a tragic scene.
On the left-hand sheet, we see how the heroic soldier Yojibei sacrifices himself to the gods of the sea in order to bring an end to the storm that is plaguing the troops.
Kuniyoshi broke with the tradition of depicting women as seductive courtesans by offering a contrasting idealised female image: that of the heroine.
He depicted heroic women from history and mythology. Such as Tokiwa Gozen, who is fleeing from enemy troops through the wintry cold, protecting her children under her kimono.